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Animal shelters are running out of dogs in pandemic
@criene via Twenty20

With news about COVID-19 popping up by the hour, reading the day's headlines can leave your heart feeling heavy, but there is one good news story that should lift you up, mama (especially if you're an animal lover).

Pet shelters are seeing record numbers of adoptions right now as families are spending more time at home. Seriously, animal rescues are running out of adoptable dogs and that's amazing news.

Around the country, shelters are running out of adoptable dogs. This isn't just good news for the dogs who are finding forever homes, but also for the animals who will come after them. With the more adoptable animals now living with families, shelters that are now operating with reduced staff can concentrate on the sick or injured animals who need their attention, and keep spaces open for animals who may need to be surrendered or rescued because of the coronavirus.

"Shelter dogs are really winning in this entire coronavirus experience," Sarah Brasky, the founder and executive director of Foster Dogs Inc. in New York told the Associated Press. "It's a strange phenomenon because there was always interest in fostering and rescue but now it is exploding."


According to Lorie Chortyk, a spokesperson for the B.C. SPCA, the extra time people are spending at home right now does make this a good time to bond with a new pet. "Because when an animal comes into your home, it's a very new experience for them, as well as for you — so just having that time to play, to get to know their habits, to do a bit of training, if that's what's needed, is good," Chortyk told CBC News.

Animal advocates stress that families should only adopt right now if they will still have the time to be committed pet guardians when everyone goes back to school and work, but for families who were already planning on getting a dog eventually and can commit to one long-term, now really is an ideal time—for the dogs and for us.

"The medical research shows that animals can reduce our stress, reduce our blood pressure, and just really be a source of comfort to us," Chortyk explains. "So I think they can also give back to us at the time where we really do need that comfort more than ever."

She's right. According to Yale University, dogs can reduce our stress and make kids happier, kinder, gentler and more independent.

Dogs make parents + kids happy

It's the first benefit on the list and also the most obvious. Dogs just make us happy. Many dog owners report a mood boost from spending time with their pup and many parents have noticed how canine companions can boost a child's mood.

There's a lot of science to support this link between dogs and human happiness.

One study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that “pets can serve as important sources of social support, providing many positive psychological and physical benefits for their owners," and another, out of the University of Cambridge, found that kids get more satisfaction from their relationship with household pets (especially dogs) than with human siblings. Yet another found that “having a pet dog in the home was associated with a decreased probability of childhood anxiety."

According to Yale, the happiness kids feel around dogs is due to the hormone oxytocin (the same hormone thought to make mothers more responsive to their baby's cries). This hormone is known for playing a role in how we bond with each other and its release makes kids feel more social and cheerful.

Dogs reduce kids' anxiety

Studies suggest therapy dogs help pediatric cancer patients maintain stable blood pressure, pulse rates and anxiety levels, and similar results have been seen in programs that see children who are reluctant or anxious readers read to dogs instead of people.

This is again, probably down to oxytocin, as "interacting with a friendly dog also reduces cortisol levels most likely through oxytocin release, which attenuates physiologic responses to stress," researchers note.

Dogs make kids more caring and independent

Many parents decide to get a pet to foster a sense of responsibility in their kids, but even when children are too young to be walking or feeding Fido themselves, research indicates that having a bond with a dog is doing them good, not by making them more responsible, but by making them more empathetic.

A preschooler is much too young to be “responsible" for a dog, but they can still enjoy the routine a dog's presence brings to a household and can do things like bring the leash to mom when it's time to go for a walk (maybe that's why studies suggest children from homes with a pet dog have higher levels of physical activity.)

According to Yale Medical, being responsible for a dog makes children feel proud, and that in turn leads them to take better care of themselves.

Dogs are good for kids' health

The impact a dog has on a child's health can start even before they are born. One study out of the University of Alberta suggests having a pet in the house during pregnancy and the first few months of a baby's life lowers their risks for developing allergies or struggling with obesity later in life and reduces the transmission of vaginal group B Strep (which causes pneumonia in newborns) during birth.

It basically comes down to gut bacteria. Dogs are dirty, but there's some good stuff in that dirt.

Having a dog to walk can motivate a family to get outside more, (which is good, because little humans need almost as much exercise as a dog).

Bottom line: If you always wanted a family dog now is a good time

If you were already thinking about getting a dog and know that keeping your pandemic companion for life is part of your plan, there's never been a better time to adopt a dog.

[A version of this post was originally published on November 29, 2017. It has been updated.]

When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It's not exactly possible to practice before baby's arrival.

The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.

MilkBliss chocolate chip soft baked lactation cookies

MilkBliss lactation cookies

Studies have shown the top reason women stop breastfeeding within the first year is because they are concerned about their milk supply being enough to nourish baby. Consider MilkBliss Lactation Cookies to be your secret weapon. Not only are they wholesome and delicious, but they were formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms based on the science of galactagogues—also known as milk boosters. They also come in peanut butter and wild blueberry flavors.

$23

Evereden multi-purpose healing balm

Evereden multipurpose healing balm

Also up there on the list of reasons women stop breastfeeding: the toll the early days can take on nipples. Made from just five ingredients, this all natural healing balm is ideal for soothing chafed nipples, making for a much more comfortable experience for mama as her body adjusts to the needs of a breastfeeding baby.

$20

Lansinoh milk storage bags

Lansinoh milk storage bags

For a breastfeeding mama, there are few things more precious and valuable than the milk she worked so hard to pump—and it's the stuff of nightmares to imagine it spilling out in the fridge. With these double-sealed milk storage bags, you can be assured your breastmilk is safe and sound until baby needs it.

$12.50

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Nursing a baby is a 24/7 job, which calls for some wardrobe modifications. Because Belly Bandit specializes in making things more comfortable for the postpartum mama, they've truly thought of every detail—from the breathable fabric to the clips that can be easily opened with one hand.

$47

boob-ease soothing therapy pillows

Boob Ease soothing therapy pillows

For nursing moms, duct can quickly become a four-letter word when you suspect it's getting clogged. By keeping these soothing breast pillows in your breastfeeding arsenal, you can immediately go on the defense against plugged milk ducts by heating the pads in the microwave or cooling them in the freezer.

$25

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

A unfortunate reality of nursing is that it can really seem to limit the wardrobe options when you have to think about providing easy, discrete access. But by adding functional basics to your closet, you can feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding on the go.

$59

Bebe au Lait premium cotton nursing cover

Bebe au Lait cotton nursing cover

Nursing in public isn't every mama's cup of tea. But babies can't always wait until you've found a private place to get down to business if that's your preference. That's where a nursing cover comes in handy. This one is made from premium cotton and features a patented neckline that allows for airflow and eye contact even while you're covered.

$36

Lactation Lab basic breastmilk testing kit

Lactation Lab breastmilk testing kit

Curious to learn more about the liquid gold you're making, mama? The testing kit from Lactation Labs analyzes your breast milk for basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins to help boost your breastfeeding confidence.

$99

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Why do all of my good parenting or baby-focused inventions come after they've already been invented by someone else? Sigh.

Like the Puj hug hooded baby towel, aka the handiest, softest cotton towel ever created.

Safely removing a wet, slippery baby from the bath can be totally nerve-wracking, and trying to hold onto a towel at the same time without soaking it in the process seems to require an extra arm altogether. It's no wonder so much water ends up on the floor, the countertops, or you(!) after bathing your little one. Their splashing and kicking in the water is beyond adorable, of course, but the clean up after? Not as much.

It sounds simple: Wash your child, sing them a song or two, let them play with some toys, then take them out, place a towel around them, and dry them off. Should be easy, peasy, lemon squeezy, right?

But it hasn't been. It's been more—as one of my favorite memes says—difficult, difficult, lemon difficult. Because until this towel hit the bathtime scene, there was no easy-peasy way to pick up your squirming wet baby without drenching yourself and/or everything around you.

Plus, there is nothing cuter than a baby in a plush hooded towel, right? Well, except when it's paired with a dry, mess-free floor, maybe.

Check out our favorites to make bathtime so much easier:

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In just over three weeks, we will become parents. From then on, our hearts will live outside of our bodies. We will finally understand what everyone tells you about bringing a child into the world.

Lately, the range of emotions and hormones has left me feeling nothing short of my new favorite mom word, "hormotional." I'm sure that's normal though, and something most people start to feel as everything suddenly becomes real.

Our bags are mostly packed, diaper bag ready, and birth plan in place. Now it's essentially a waiting game. We're finishing up our online childbirth classes which I must say are quite informational and sometimes entertaining. But in between the waiting and the classes, we've had to think about how we're going to handle life after baby's birth.

I don't mean thinking and planning about the lack of sleep, feeding schedule, or just the overall changes a new baby is going to bring. I'm talking about how we're going to handle excited family members and friends who've waited just as long as we have to meet our child. That sentence sounds so bizarre, right? How we're going to handle family and friends? That sentence shouldn't even have to exist.

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